Wolves escape from Colchester Zoo

An investigation's underway after five wolves escaped from Colchester Zoo. Keepers discovered they had got out through a hole in the fence. One returned to the enclosure, one was recaptured, and three were shot dead.

Live updates

Colchester Zoo carry out investigation over wolves escape

Colchester Zoo in Essex have confirmed that they have carried out an investigation after five wolves escaped from an enclosure on Tuesday.

Three animals had to be shot dead after a decision was made that anaesthetic darts would not take effect in time to prevent a risk to the public.

"Following the escape and devastating loss of three of Colchester Zoo’s wolves on Tuesday 26th November a full investigation has been undertaken by Colchester Zoo’s senior management to assess the events that have taken place.

No evidence was found to prove foul play, however, senior managers are struggling to comprehend how in the time available to them, the wolves managed to break right through their purpose made, stainless steel, perimeter fence.

A clear system of regular, daily safety checks to all enclosures continues to remain in place and the senior management have complete faith in our competent and experienced staff to continue carrying out these duties as a daily procedure.

Under the Zoo Licensing Act, contingency measures are in place in the event of a dangerous animal escape and zoo staff are fully trained to carry this out including a twice yearly animal escape drill being carried out with a full debrief taking place.

Sue Thornton BSc, BVetMed, MRCVS, of the International Zoo Veterinary Group, consultant vets to Colchester Zoo, has confirmed that the decision to use lethal force rather than a tranquilliser in this situation was the correct one.

The zoo holds equipment and drugs available on site to deal with any of its animals should they escape within the boundaries of the zoo but the delay of the effects of the tranquilliser coupled with the danger to the public of a category 1 dangerous wild animal means that sadly lethal force is appropriate once the animal has breached the zoo perimeter."

– Colchester Zoo statement

Latest on Colchester Zoo wolf escape

Investigations have been continuing today into how a number of wolves managed to escape from Colchester Zoo.

The incident took place yesterday morning and resulted in three of the five wolves being shot dead. One returned of its own accord; the other was tranquillised. They had got out though a damaged fence.

So, what can zoos do, to make sure they are as secure as possible?

Click below to see Malcolm Robertson's full report:


Colchester Zoo wolf escape: 'It was an unpredictable situation and they posed a high risk to the public'

Zoo keepers have launched an investigation to establish how five wolves escaped from their pen.

Three timber wolves were shot dead and two others recaptured after they escaped through a damaged fence at Colchester Zoo, Essex, yesterday morning.

One of the wolves which was shot was found beyond the zoo's perimeter after an eight-hour search.

Staff were said to be devastated by the deaths.

A zoo spokesman warned: "They are wild animals and in an unpredictable situation they would have posed a risk to the public."

Today zoo bosses said they were trying to establish how the damage was caused.

"Colchester Zoo management are holding an investigation today, and we have no further comment to make at this time," the spokesman added.

Click below to see Serena Sandhu's full report:

Breaking: Last Colchester wolf shot dead

A missing wolf which escaped from Colchester Zoo has been shot dead. Credit: Colchester Zoo

A wolf that escaped from Colchester Zoo earlier today has been shot dead.

Five wolves in total got out this morning after escaping through a hole in the fence in their enclosure.

One of the wolves returned, whilst two had to be shot and another was recaptured.

A police search was then launched to locate the remaining wolf, which has now been shot dead.


  1. National

Zoo 'devastated' as escaped wolves 'had to be shot'

Colchester Zoo said it was "devastated" by the death of two of their "beloved" Timber wolves.

The two wolves were among five that escaped their enclosure this morning at around 7.30pm. In a statement, the Zoo said they were still looking for one of the escaped wolves, with the help of police.

One of the wolves returned immediately of its own accord and one was darted and recaptured.

Unfortunately, as they were further away and an anaesthetic dart takes 15 minutes to take effect, two had to be shot.

The remaining wolf is thought to be sheltering in thick undergrowth and the police are assisting in its recapture. Wolves are naturally timid and provided they are not cornered in any way do not provide a risk to the public.

Essex Police launch hunt for Colchester wolf

Police teams are searching for a wolf which has escaped from Colchester Zoo in Essex. Credit: Colchester Zoo

Police teams are searching for a wolf which has escaped from Colchester Zoo in Essex.

The animal was reported missing at around 8am this morning.

Five Timber wolves in total escaped from the enclosure at the zoo after the perimeter fence was damaged.

One of the wolves returned, whilst two had to be shot and another was recaptured.

The fifth wolf has still yet to be found and is thought to be sheltering in thick undergrowth.

A police helicopter and ground units are continuing to search neighbouring fields.

Back to top